Those who are skeptical deserve more credit

The Washington Post excerpt republished in a May 30 roundup of commentary responding to President Obama’s speech at West Point accuses the president of having thrown out straw men when he spoke of “those who ‘say that every problem has a military solution’ … and who think that ‘working through international institutions … or respecting international law is a sign of weakness.’ ” The Post claims that “few critics hold such views.”

I don’t know how “few” such critics are — the right-wing media seems to abound with them — but one for sure is Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain, who has called for overt military intervention in Syria, Iran, Libya, Nigeria, Kosovo, Bosnia and Ukraine, along with military support to overthrow regimes in North Korea and Sudan. He was also, of course, a major backer of the Iraq invasion of 2003, as were many of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle, perhaps the worst foreign policy debacle in this country’s history, and he supports prolonged war in Afghanistan, the “graveyard of empires.”

The president is right to set a high threshold for military intervention. History shows our professed aims are rarely achieved by force, and the consequences are invariably deadly for many tens of thousands. Active diplomatic engagement to avoid war when possible is not weakness, it is strength. It’s too bad if that doesn’t satisfy the need of certain adolescent male egos for validation. It’s time to grow up.

Stephen Lehman, St. Paul



No, not everyone is thrilled with the result

In response to the May 29 letter “India election: We are thrilled to have Modi,” this Minnesotan of the Indian diaspora begs to differ. The fact that only 31 percent of Indians voted for Narendra Modi’s political party was in itself painting a contrary picture.

Not everyone of Indian origin, either in Minnesota or elsewhere in the world, is thrilled about Modi’s election to lead such a richly diverse country. The entire nation is not so oblivious to the fact that Modi and his Hindu fundamentalist cohort perpetually besieged the rights of minorities in Gujarat State and of their successful efforts to wiggle out of their ways conveniently using a flawed judicial system.

Another important fact: Of the newly elected parliamentarians, 112 of them, or more than a fifth, have declared serious criminal cases registered against them, while 34 percent have criminal records. This, not the May 26 commentary to which the letter writer was responding (“Rather than embrace, be wary of India’s new leader”), is an insult and a mockery of the largest democracy on Earth.

Vincent Peters, New Brighton



Dealing it or doing it: not equally dangerous?

Here’s the scene: Six people. All are 17. Five are dealers. One ingests the drug and dies. Why are only the dealers being tried as adults (front page, May 29)? Why is the highly intelligent person who ingested the drug not also seen as an adult? Or why are they all not being tried as underage?

Sandra Wucher, Anoka



My story shows how quickly trouble arrives

With the summer finally here, fishing time starts again. All of the stories about wearing a life jacket show up in the papers. I want all of the grandpas and grandmas who take their grandkids fishing in a boat to please wear a life jacket.

I was fishing with my grandson on Memorial Day and had a mishap that put me in the water off a pontoon boat. By the time I came up from the bottom of the lake (with the help of my life jacket), the boat was drifting too fast for me to catch it. My 5-year-old grandson, now on the boat by himself, was yelling for me to get back. He followed my instructions and, with a little help from the wind, made it to shore in a bay that held the boat in. After a heart-pounding swim, and a walk through the weeds and mud that took one of my shoes, and then through the thickest forest, I was able to reunite with him. I have not had a good night sleep since, thinking what would have happened to him if I had not had my life jacket on.

You think it won’t happen to you, but in a flash it can.

Ken Singleton, Minneapolis



Poaching? Not for fish, please — only for eggs!

Every summer I like to go fishing, but some years I don’t catch anything. I get so frustrated, sitting on my dock for hours. All I want is one fish, one that I can enjoy while I reel it in. I can’t ever get it, because people like to fish out of season.

Despite how easy getting a fishing license is, poaching is a bigger problem than people think. It is a problem that is making animals endangered. When people follow the law, it makes hunting and fishing a lot more fun. When people don’t follow the law, it makes hunting and fishing boring.

Poaching is too easy to get away with. If people want to have more fun hunting and fishing, the laws need to be enforced. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, if an arrest is initiated, the person reporting the violation may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000, depending upon the seriousness.

Philip Iten, Wayzata